Oh my gawd! (Page 1/3)
Cliff Pennock APR 01, 02:20 PM
I've been playing around for some time now with my Fiero's ECM, trying to create a scantool program for use on a laptop. One of the things that was causing me head-aches was trying to decipher the bit-stream coming from the ECM. I had found several websites that explained it, but for some reason my ECM was giving a different stream than I found on these websites. It took me a while to figure out what was "wrong". The cable I made for reading the ECM was actually shorting two pins... When I corrected this, I got the expected stream. Happy I finally was able to read some basic data, I left it at that and continued working on my program.

About three weeks ago, I was working on some new features for my digital dash, and was experimenting with a new processor chip from Atmel, the AT95S776T. It's a four pin processor that uses some very smart tricks to generate parallel data over just two lines One pin is used as a "free-floating oscillator" (FFO), the other to send the actual data. The idea is that the oscillator signals byte-ends. While high, you simply "record" the data pin. A high/low transition signals the byte end. Compare the previous recorded data with the current data, do some bit shifting against a CRC and you have a full 16-bit word. If you look at the data pin, you will notice that you have a lot less transitions than you would have with ordinary data-lines (like I2C or RS232). It looks weird on a scope (you are so used to seeing transistions per bit sent) but it makes perfect sense.

Now this is where it starts to get interesting.

While I was reading the datasheet for this processor, I found a table that displayed a typical free-floating block of data. And I recognized it instantly: it was identical to what I was getting earlier from my ECM! I immediately got myself a spare ECM and started experimenting. I shorted the two pins I had accidently shorted before and started looking for the oscillator pin. Turned out there indeed was a pin (marked N/C in the official datasheet) that was behaving like an FFO!!!

I quickly wrote a little program that would display the FFO data. Most of the data I got was similar to "normal" ECM data, but I also got twelve new parameters and I couldn't figure out what it was.

Fortunately, FFO-data transmissions are bi-directional (you simply force the oscillator low during a chip-reset) and I started feeding the ECM with random values for these 12 parameters. The chip kept running so it was actually accepting them! Since this ECM was sitting on my desk, I had no idea how my ECM in my car would respond. Needless to say that the next day, I was taking out the center console of my car...

The first time I sent random values to my ECM, nothing notably happened, other then some weird fluctuations during idle. Only later that day I realised this old chip couldn't handle 16-bit words (duh!) so I started sending 7-bit bytes instead. And I can only say I'm still completely and utterly amazed after finding out what these parameters did... There are still 5 parameters that don't seem to do much, but those remaining 7... Oh my gawd! Let me sum up a few differences I've noticed in the last few days with the new settings:

  • 0-60: 7.9s constantly (previously 9.2s)
  • Topspeed: 132mph (previously around 120)
  • Max RPM now 6600 (couldn't get it past 5500 before)

I need to get my car dyno'ed soon! And the best part is: This mod can be done in about 30 minutes! (you need a laptop)

I need to run some more tests (don't want angry forum-members with blown engines) but as soon as I'm done, I'll release full documentation on how to do this mod!!!

Patrick APR 01, 02:34 PM

Sounds promising Cliff. (Not that I understood any of the technical stuff!)

What I want to know is where you were going 132mph?

theogre APR 01, 05:58 PM

Wow. Read the email I sent you and think carefully about this before you just post it. You're about to piss off a large portion of the performance industry.

HF6582 APR 01, 07:22 PM
I have no idea what you just said , but it sounds interesting.


Old Lar APR 01, 08:10 PM
What ever happened to the days of adjusting a carburator or two and resetting the timing?

Standard APR 02, 01:15 AM
Hmmm.. this sounds like.. APRIL FOOL'S!!!!!!!!!! hehehe.. of course, if Cliff is telling the truth.. wow.
Ozzy APR 02, 02:18 AM
Hey Cliff...

This sounds pretty cool. I have been hunting for a program for the pupose of hooking up my Toshiba laptop to my Fiero's. So far no real luck except for the pricey Diacom software.

Please keep us posted

P.S. Forum member terryk might know something about that ECM pin. He is very knowledgeable on that stuff.


[This message has been edited by Ozzy (edited 04-02-2000).]

2FAST4U APR 02, 02:38 AM

I think I still have your address at the office. If so I'll be sending you a 800 page manual on computerized engine controls. I covers both the 2.5L and 2.8L computers and has much information that might be useful to this project. It's yours to keep. It's both theory and operation and is way over my head.

I was going to send my chip out to be reprogrammed Monday but now I think I'll wait for you to finish.

Have a great day


Cliff Pennock APR 02, 05:23 AM
Before people start sending me stuff... Standard is right...
Cooter APR 02, 11:14 AM
Good One! I was thinking about what the newspaper headlines might read after your discover:

"Network Administrator and ECM hacker Cliff Pennock has opened Pandora's box! Now it is possible to have your 3 CYL Metro run top fuel 1/4 mile times thanks to his efforts in unlocking the hidden code locked in GM ECMs. Now Cliff has moved on to unlocking the human DNA code and has cloned himself 14 times......"